Nine former members of the Ogun State House of Assembly have cried out over the alleged non-payment of their severance benefits by the state government.
The ex-lawmakers accused the Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun-led administration of withholding their benefits running into N27 million for political reasons.
The aggrieved lawmakers alleged that almost a year after the present government assumed office and some of them were not opportune to return to the assembly, the state government has deliberately refused to pay them their severance allowance in spite of several appeals to the governor and the Speaker of the assembly, Surajudeen Ishola Adekunbi.
The affected former lawmakers are Sunday Kojeku, Tolu Bankole, Moroof Musa, Omosanya Solaja, Edward Ayo Odugbesan, Oluseyi Moses, Titi Oseni, Yemi Coker and Fasiu Bakene.
Fasiu Bakenne who spoke on behalf of the other aggrieved lawmakers in Abeokuta on Saturday alleged that, although the governor approved funds for payment of the severance allowance to all the 26 former legislators, only the nine of them have not been paid to date.
He claimed that their 17 other colleagues had since November last year collected their own severance benefits.
All the 26 members of the defunct assembly belonged to the People’s Democratic Party PDP, before the House broke into two factions.
While one faction was led by the former Speaker, Tunji Egbetokun, the other was headed by Soyemi Coker.
The nine members who lost their bid to return to the House belonged to the Coker faction and are the loyalists of the former governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel.
According to Bakenne, “On 16 November, 2011, we went to find out from the Speaker why we were not paid and he told us that the factional legislators under the Speakership of Tunji Egbetokun few days before leaving office passed a resolution that the right of those of us who belonged to the Yemi Coker’s faction should be withdrawn and until that resolution is vacated, the money won’t be paid.
“To me, that is not only an act of persecution but also oppression, because that act bothered on illegality.”
Bakene said they were not considering a legal option and would not drag the state government to court over the issue,“because that would ridicule the Assembly which made some of us”.
He however warned, “If the payment of our allowance is going to be linked with getting us to defect to the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), then I must say that we won’t succumb”.
Reacting to the claim by the ex-legislators, the Special Assistant to the Speaker, Mr. Waheed Akinola said that,” until the nine affected legislators apologise and the current assembly vacate a resolution passed by the immediate past legislators denouncing their colleagues, there was nothing or little the current Speaker could do about their plight.”
According to Akinola, “the fund for the settlement of the severance benefits of the nine lawmakers had been safely kept in the account of the assembly and would be released as soon as they met the set conditions.”
He further said: “The last legislative House passed a resolution denouncing the G9 lawmakers and until that resolution is vacated, there is nothing the Speaker can do. Their money is still in the account of the assembly. They have to either work on how to get that resolution vacated or they apologise.”